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Vancouver Washington Social Security Disability Law Blog

SSA suspending its seizure of tax refunds for SSI overpayments

People whose families received Supplemental Security Income payments when they were children, only to have their income tax refunds seized as an adult, may find that they are getting a break under a new policy. The Social Security Administration, which administers the SSI program, says it will no longer seek to recoup overpayments this way, at least for now.

The SSA says that, due to overpayment of SSI and Social Security benefits over the years, it is owed $714 million. The debts are from payments more than 10 years old. By seizing recipients’ income tax refunds and other methods, it has collected about $55 million.

Upsee helps disabled children walk, with parent's help

Raising a child with a disability is different than being Mom or Dad to other children. Parents in Vancouver often have to get creative in order to help their children grow up with as few limitations as possible.

For example, the mother of a boy with cerebral palsy has invented a device that helps children who cannot walk on their own take their first steps. The device is called the Upsee. It is essentially a harness that fits around the child’s torso. The parent then uses straps to connect his or her legs to the harness.

On Twitter, migraines are #splitting and #pounding

Perhaps only someone who has gotten a migraine headache can truly know how agonizing and debilitating they can be. But they can try to describe the experience. Nowadays, that often means taking to social media like Twitter, to share their ordeal in 140-character chunks.

To help doctors better understand their patients who have chronic migraines, a new study examined how we talk about the condition on Twitter. In 2011, professors and students at the University of Michigan spent a week searching for tweets that mentioned migraine headaches.

Schizophrenia can impact imitation, leading to social difficulty

One of the challenges that many people with schizophrenia face is severe difficulty with social interaction. Many schizophrenia patients have trouble relating with other people and making friends. Among other things, this mental illness can make it difficult for patients to get or keep a job, possibly requiring Social Security disability benefits to make up for it.

Just how schizophrenia affects the ability to socialize has been a mystery for a long time. A new study may provide an answer.

Having an older father may put children at risk of mental illness

Researchers were so “shocked” to discover the extent to which the age a man is when his child is born affects the child’s risk of mental illness, that they could not believe the findings at first. The lead author of a new study said he spent months testing the data to see if he had misinterpreted the numbers.

But the figures kept coming out the same. Children of older fathers were much more likely to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or other conditions than children of young dads.

National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week is March 3-7

The week of March 3-7 is when the National Multiple Sclerosis Society hosts its annual awareness campaign. With more than 2.3 million people around the world living with MS, including many in Washington state, it is a good time for people to take the time to learn something about the condition, and how debilitating it can be in some cases.

MS affects the central nervous system. It interrupts communication between the brain and body. According to Web MD, it can cause a variety of symptoms. Numbness, muscle spasms, balance problems and limb weakness can make walking difficult. Many people with MS deal with challenges in speech, vision, memory and fatigue.

Washington non-profit provides support for those with a TBI

There are at least 135,000 residents of Washington state who are living with long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, according to government figures. This is a large community, many of whom likely had to stop working after their brain injury. They may need caretakers and other services for everyday tasks, at least for a while.

A Washington woman who is the survivor of a TBI herself is working to help others with a brain injury. She founded Brain Energy Support Team, or BEST, in 2007. The non-profit creates support groups for survivors, as well as their families and caregivers. There are nearly 70 BEST support groups in Washington.

Study finds activity level an indication of disability

Most people know in general terms that being physically active leads to good health, while sitting for too long each day can lead to several disabling illnesses. At the same time, many disabilities make walking and other forms of exercise difficult, if not impossible.

A new study appears to confirm that for older people, the more time they spend sitting down each day, the more likely they are to be disabled. Whether a pre-existing disability led to the subjects’ being sedentary, or whether the lifestyle led to them becoming disabled, was not determined by the researchers.

TMS treatment effective for many pill-resistant depression cases

Depression is a serious mental illness that many people in Seattle are living with. It is very common in the U.S., and science has developed an array of treatments, including a number of medications. Unfortunately, a significant number of cases of depression don’t respond to currently available treatments. According to the Orlando Sentinel, nearly one third of depression patients do not improve significantly when taking anti-depressants.

Thus, it is necessary to develop new forms of depression treatment. One emerging option uses magnets to try to “wake up” parts of the brain affected by the disorder.

What is Stiff Person Syndrome?

This blog has largely been about common disabling conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, mental illness and paralysis. But there are numerous people in Washington and across the U.S. who are living with a disease that does not often make the news, but nevertheless affects their lives to the point where they can no longer work. Social Security disability benefits may be necessary to help make ends meet.

One such disease is called Stiff Person Syndrome, or SDS. It is a painful, often terrifying condition that can make a person essentially a prisoner in his or her own body.

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